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Múrray to enter the lists with the great Methodistical leader. In the answer of our author, the reasonings of Wesley are completely refuted, his sophistry pointedly exposed, and his puerile and presumptuous attempts to draw from Scripture any countenance to oppression ridiculed in a strain of cutting irony peculiar to himself. This pamphlet appears to have cured Wesley of his political mania; for he never after favoured the world with Tory publications.
The pamphlet, however, brought the writer into notice, and fixed him ever afterwards in the public eye. Much about this time, Sir George Saville's Bill for the removal of certain Catholic disabilities had thrown the whole kingdom into à ferment. Amongst the ablest and most determined of the Catholic opponents was our author. He not only declaimed against Catholic concession in the pulpit, but was particularly active in calling public meetings to petition against their claims, and at which he was always the leading speaker. This part of his conduct has been, with apparent justice, severely blamed by some, who were unquestionably competent to judge, and who were, nevertheless, far from being insensible to his general merits. They thought, and said, that such conduct bespoke a narrowness of mind, and an intolerance of spirit, wholly unworthy of his character. Before, however," these charges can be fairly and finally decided, for or against him, his reasons for opposing the Catholic claims of that day should be fully and impartially considered. He was not like some of the stupid canting bigots of these times : he did not oppose the Catholics on account of their religious creed; nor because they believed in transubstantiation, or
enjoined auricular confession; but because he deemed their whole system of worship an artful and wicked contrivance of priestcraft, to perpetuate the ignorance of the people, that they might the more easily be fleeced with impunity. His objections to the Catholics were not of a religious, but of a political kind; and when it is recollected, how much his native country had suffered, even in his father's time, from the domineering and persecuting spirit of an episcopal priesthood, some allowance may be made for his aversion to another, which he deemed still more intolerant. Whether these considerations, when taken together, may, or may not, be held a satisfactory justification of our author's opposition to the Catholic claims, strict impartiality requires, at least, that they should be stated in a sketch of his life.
As might be expected, he was a decided enemy to Lord North’s administration, and particularly to the American war. Both the pulpit and the press were actively employed by him to open the eyes of the people to the injustice and oppression of that unbappy contest with our colonies. With the view of making a stronger impression on the public mind, he went through a course of weekly lectures, at his meetinghouse in Newcastle, on subjects selected from scripture, for the purpose of enlightening the people on the nature of political rights and duties. It was his custom to announce publicly each of these lectures by advertisement, which, from the novelty of his subjects, and the popular style in which he discussed them, constantly drew to his meeting-house crowded congregations. Such was the singular, but important use, which his ardent zeal led him to make of his pulpit. But,
powerful as were the effects produced by his labours in this way, he could not rest satisfied without calling in the aid of the press. In concert, therefore, with some other dissenting ministers, he brought out a periodical political miscellany, in which the principles of just government, the rights of the people, and the other interesting topics of the day were clearly explained, and freely discussed.
To render, however, the detested American war unpopular and odious among the people, his active spirit sought other means than those afforded by the pulpit and the press. He took the lead in calling public meetings to petition Parliament against its continuance, at which he never failed to inveigh in the severest terms against the authors and abettors of that unnatural and ruthless contest. The Church clergy, to whom he had rendered himself extremely obnoxious, were many of them then, what too many of them are still, the active defenders of Corruption, and the inveterate enemies of Reform. To such sort of churchmen these public meetings were peculiarly offensive; but being in those days held to be perfectly legal, these clerical worthies could not then, with any decent appearance, call in the military to disperse them.
Such were the effects of our author's various, unceasing, and unwearied labours, in the cause of liberty and his country, that, about the year 1780, Newcastle, à town which had never been distinguished for any very warm attachment to the cause, had become a promising nursery of patriotic feeling. In that year, and in this state of things, the general election took place; when our author, shocked and disgusted with the measures of the last parliament, and with the public conduct of the members for Newcastle, resolved to take proper precautions against their pursuing the same line of conduct in future. The candidates, on this occasion, for Newcastle, were, its old member, Sir Matthew White Ridley, -Andrew Robinson Bowes, of notorious memory,—and Sir Thomas Delaval. . Our author prepared a test, to which these candidates were required to promise strict compliance ;-a pledge which Sir M. W. Ridley declined to give; of which Bowes, by a peculiar taste in swearing, said, “ he'd be danın'd if he gave any thing of the sort;” and with which the unsuccessful candidate alone, Sir T. Delaval, would agree to comply.
This election at Newcastle was rendered somewhat memorable by the appearance of Mr. John Scott (now Lord Chancellor Eldon) on the hustings, as a young blushing barrister, to promote, by wrangling and banter, the interests of his amiable client, Andrew Robinson Bowes. The contest was warm and protracted; and though Corruption ultimately triumphed, our author's opinions had taken such deep root in the public mind, that from that day to this there has ever been a powerful party in Newcastle, the firm and zealous friends to the cause of liberty, civil and religious.
From this time to the death of our author, though nothing could subdue his spirit, he had ever to contend with a disease, under which he had long laboured, It paralyzed his bodily activity, and, after a gradual decline, brought him in a few years to his grave. He was a man whose ability in defending truth and liberty was equalled by his zeal in the diffusion of a right knowledge of both ;—who had in his character little of the priest, and much of the philanthropist;
who made the doctrines of Christianity subservient,
The present Volume contains the ablest pieces
The History of Religion; particularly of the principal Denomi-
A History of the Churches in England and Scotland, from the
Lectures upon the Book of the Revelation of John the Divine.
An Essay on Redemption.
The Lawfulness of Self-Defence : an Evening Lecture, delivered in the High-Bridge Meeting, Newcastle. With an Address to the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England. Dedicated to the Mayor of Newcastle, July 12, 1780.
Şermons to Young Men and Women. 1 vol. 12mo.
Lectures on the Lives of the Patriarchs. 2 vols. Sometimes
History of the American War. 4 vols. in 8vo.
These are the only publications of our author,